Hurricane Michael

Man walks along beach. Giant tree roots are to the right and left of him.
Photo provided by Susan Cerulean, wife to Jeff Chanton

Climate change could soon be a factor state agencies use when determining whether plants and animals are considered endangered or threatened. It also would ban agencies from considering economic factors when making those decisions.

Valerie Crowder

For communities still recovering from Hurricane Michael, the 2020 census comes at a bad time. Bay County officials worry they could lose millions of dollars and are trying to make sure everyone gets counted. 

Man stands up on a podium. People around him are clapping.
Steve Cannon / AP Photo

Gov. DeSantis kicked off Florida's legislative session by announcing his priorities for 2020. He chose three locals to help illustrate his education and Hurricane Michael initiatives.  

Large boxes are stacked from floor to ceiling at the Second Harvest of the Big Bend warehouse. Donated food is sorted, labeled, packed, and distributed from 41,000 square foot warehouse in Tallahassee.
Gina Jordan / WFSU News

Second Harvest of the Big Bend is ramping up donations this holiday season for Hurricane Michael affected areas. Second Harvest is one of the largest food pantries in Florida.

Two very damaged houses on stilts with smashed in roofs
Erich Martin

Florida’s Director of Emergency Management says finding local money to match federal funds is one of the biggest issues facing communities after Hurricane Michael.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Florida Forest Service director Jim Karels  says there’s a good chance state block grants will be approved to help North Florida’s ailing timber industry. The subject-specific grants have never been given out for timber anywhere in the nation by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Tom Flanigan

The United Church in Tallahassee dedicated its annual Artisan Market on Saturday, Nov. 2 to help Hurricane Michael victims. That included the auctioning off of a large hand-made quilt.

Valerie Crowder

Hundreds gathered in Mexico Beach on Thursday to celebrate the community’s resiliency one year after Hurricane Michael decimated the small coastal town. 

The side of  a town house is almost so damaged you can see through it. Behind the structure is a beautiful blue sky.
Erich Martin

Just a year after Category 5 Hurricane Michael swept through Florida’s panhandle, the residents in the area are still feeling the aftermath.

Michael wiped through the city of Mexico Beach, ruining homes and businesses in its path. Florida Public Radio Emergency Network Meteorologist, Jeff Huffman, described the hurricane as one of the most historic storms the Panhandle has seen.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Following Hurricane Michael’s destructive path through Florida’s panhandle, headlines painted a grim future for timber, a major industry in the region. The losses were huge – valued at $1.3 billion. Yet not all was lost, as some lumber and paper mills in the region are still going strong.

Trees are broken and crumbled onto a house in a Panama City neighborhood after Hurricane Michael.
Briney King

One year after Category 5 Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, children and adults are still struggling with the catastrophe and the changes. Homes and schools were damaged, livelihoods were destroyed, and recovery has been slow.

Michael was Tanner Livingston’s first hurricane. “When they still talk about hurricanes, I’m still afraid of them,” he says during an open house at Deer Point Elementary, where he’s a kindergartner.

The family’s Lynn Haven home in Bay County was damaged, and Tanner recounts in detail what happened after they hid in his mom’s closet.

Valerie Crowder

At least 90% of structures in Panama City were damaged in Hurricane Michael. One year later, city officials are about to resume code enforcement actions, and residential property owners say they’re ready for the city to begin cracking down on neglected lots that pose a health and safety hazard to their neighborhoods.

The front of a building is torn off. A hurricane Evacuation Route signs sits on top of the rubble.
Regan McCarthy

Last year, after Hurricane Michael wrought havoc in the Panhandle, school officials began raising concerns about an emergent mental health crisis among students. Bay County Superintendent Bill Hussfelt said in the first four months following the storm, 70 kids had been involuntarily held for mental health treatment through the Baker Act. But in the first two months of this school year, 50 students have already been institutionally committed. 

An empty classroom with blue metal chairs in three rows
Bonnie Brown / Flickr/creative commons

After-school programs in Gadsden are suspended until further notice. The school district’s programs are out of money. However, the superintendent says he hopes the interruption won’t be for long. 

Valerie Crowder

Mexico Beach is receiving the first grant from $25 million in state Hurricane Michael recovery aid that became available to communities in early September. 

Tyndall Air Force Base Facebook Page

Tyndall Air Force officials are working out how they will execute a years-long series of construction projects to rebuild more than half of the military base. 


football players in red t-shirts hold their pads and look out over a field
Bobby Caina Calvan / AP Photo/The Associated Press

BLOUNTSTOWN, Fla. (AP) — When the boys clad in red and white charged onto Bowles Field on Friday nights, the townsfolk packing the bleachers at Blountstown High could set aside the week's travails and cheer on the home team Tigers.


Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Tuesday the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave more than $6 million to cities in the Florida panhandle to reimburse them for debris removal and repairing public utilities after Hurricane Michael. Congressman Neal Dunn spoke to entrepreneurs in Tallahassee about his plan to help with the recovery.

Bay County

Bay County’s long-term recovery plan is heading to county commissioners for approval as deadlines for federal housing aid draw closer. 


A blue tarp is strapped onto the roof of Callaway's one-room schoolhouse. The school is slanted over the green landscape it rests on.
Robbie Gaffney / WFSU

The city of Callaway must dismantle and piece back its one-room schoolhouse to save its historical value after being damaged by the storm.

Valerie Crowder - WFSU News

Residents in Panama City are getting the chance to help shape how their hurricane-damaged town will look in the future. 



Welcome sign for Gulf Coast state college surrounded by green, round bushes
Gulf Coast State College

Gulf Coast State College is pressing forward despite suffering more than $50 million in damage from Hurricane Michael.

Marianna tree fallen hurricane michael
Shawn Mulcahy / WFSU

Eight months after Hurricane Michael slammed Florida’s panhandle, hurricane season has begun and it’s raising concerns for many people who are still struggling to recover. 

Downed trees and power lines stretch for miles in the panhandle. This photo was taken in Panama City on 10/12/2018.
Charley and Briney King

After several delays, congress has signed off on a long-awaited supplemental disaster spending bill. It provides funding for housing in areas hit by Hurricane Michael. Panama City manager Mark McQueen says housing recovery is the community’s number one priority.

After Hurricane Michael, Bay County is rushing to fill open positions.